HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020: Redefining workforce approaches and strategies

The discussion on Day 3 centered around how organisations can build resiliency and effectiveness.
By: | October 2, 2020

Business and HR leaders need to display empathy now more than ever, advised Jeanne Achille, founder and CEO, The Devon Group, and conference chair, Women in HR Tech Summit, US and Singapore.

She added, “Employees today face a myriad of problems, including isolation, grief, loss, anxiety, uncertainty and change. There is now a demand for empathy, which has become the tone for business in 2020, and it is empathy that helps build resiliency.”

Achille also emphasised how company culture will help drive employee engagement, and urged organisations to improve the communication channels with their employees.

“What worked in the past doesn’t necessarily work now, and we can’t solve new problems with old solutions,” she said. “Organisations need to change the way they are communicating in order to build resiliency, which is on an individual level but can be created on an organisational level.”

As organisations continue to face uncertainty in the workplace, are organisations doing enough in terms of rewards and recognition (R&R)?

If organisations are still adopting traditional R&R approaches, they are setting themselves up to fail, warned Saurabh Nigam, vice-president, Human Capital, Omidyar Network India. This, he explained, is because they are missing out on two very essential ingredients – experience and agility.

“Does your R&R approach stand the test of time? Personalise your R&R approach and the focus has to change to what employees need as their expectations change.”

Instead of giving expensive gifts, create experiences and invest time to understand your people, Nigam advised.  Celebrate moments instead of creating memories and define purpose and share relevance.

He concluded, “Today’s employees are much more conscious of how their work is making a difference to the larger community. Define goals and communicate purpose by tying R&R to the individual and organisation’s purpose.

“Lastly, build a ‘socially appreciative’ culture. We are globally connected through social networking. Leverage these platforms to let your people know that you care.”

Generally, organisational transformations can be hard; when it comes to the digital transformation, the challenges can be even more pronounced.

Highlighting how some employees are adverse to change, Juliana Chua, regional director, Digital Transformation AMERA for Essilor, shared her insights into how business leaders can achieve success in their digital transformation, from strategy to execution.

She detailed, “It’s about inspiring your team with a big vision but only on the strategy priorities, showcasing a small project and leading the team to imagine and think differently about the changes happening and as a result inspiring them to take real actions.”

Drawing on the experiences of the Union Bank of Philippines’ digital journey, EVP and CHRO Michelle Rubio highlighted how the success of their agile workforce is driven by the bank’s customer-centric approach.

“We have cross-functional squads and teams who make innovation happen everywhere,” she explained. “Leaders have transformed into entrepreneurial connectors and we have an agile and digital culture where learning is self-driven.”

Rubio also attributed the success of the bank’s agile digital transformation to the insistence that no one gets left behind. “The bank leverages on building capabilities within by buying for specialized jobs and borrowing talents for project-based engagements to support the digital transformation across the bank.”

By the third year of the digital transformation, about one third of the 600 roles in the bank had been changed and 60 new digital roles introduced, leaning towards the use and adoption of new technologies, and which were filled by internal employees.

Guinevere Teong, manager, Creative and Professional Services Division, Workforce Singapore (WSG), shared some solutions and initiatives that employers in Singapore can tap on.

WSG is a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and it oversees the transformation of the local workforce and industry to meet ongoing and upcoming economic challenges.

One initiative offered by WSG is the Career Matching service, which helps to address companies’ hiring needs by diversifying their recruitment channels. The Professional Conversion programme meanwhile, is designed to bridge the skills mismatches of jobseekers.

Companies can train newly hired PMETs to take on roles that they have no prior experience through a period of structured training, which is a mix of e-learning and on-the-job training. New hires under this initiative will qualify for the Jobs Growth Incentive which provides salary support of up to 50% of new local hires.

Can you imagine a future with virtual assistants and social robots, and how they can become assistants in daily life?

Explaining how virtual assistants (VA) may soon be a way of life, Professor Nadia Thalmann, Director, Institute for Media Innovation, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), said, “VAs can make thousands of calls a day, and speak many languages. They can ask dedicated questions and remember them. They have no fixed knowledge but are modular, and will change the way we think about and approach HR.”

She also cited the successful deployment of Nadine the social humanoid robot at AIA. During her period of deployment from September 2018 to February 2019, Nadine was specifically trained to handle questions that were usually asked to AIA service agents, and she interacted with AIA customers, helping them sign up with the AIA e-care registration portal.

To round off a successful HR Tech Festival Asia Online 2020, the winners of the HR Tech PitchFest 2020 were also announced.

Celebrating some of the most innovative solutions from HR tech start-ups in Asia, the winners were chosen based on their product value proposition, team ability to execute market need for the product, description or demonstration of a compelling user interface path or potential path to revenue/monetisation, overall assessment of the opportunity and the final pitch delivery.

Congratulations to the three winners, Diversely, an end-to-end bias-free hiring platform; Pulsifi, which provides a People Data Platform to help companies improve quality and efficiency in talent acquisition and management; and TalentTap, a mobile communications app that allows recruiters to turn their databases into on-demand workforces.